AFC Cup: Vietnamese clubs spark semifinal hopes after resounding wins

Thursday, 2019-05-02 12:19:27
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Hanoi FC are now second in Group F, only three points behind Singapore’s Tampines Rovers. (Photo: AFC)
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NDO – The door to the AFC Cup’s ASEAN zonal semifinals is wide open to the Vietnamese clubs of Hanoi FC and Becamex Binh Duong, following their respective 5-1 and 3-1 wins over Cambodia’s Nagaworld and Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta on matchday 5 of the group-stage, May 1.

It came as little surprise as Hanoi FC claimed dominance right from the first whistle in their away match against Nagaworld, who were beaten with ten unanswered goals when they played guest to the V.League champions in February.

It took 35 minutes before Hanoi FC celebrated their opening goal, thanks to a close-range finish by Pape Omar. Seven minutes later, Quang Hai favourably fed Oseni to gift the Vietnamese side a two-goal advantage going into half time.

Hanoi FC maintained their pressure in the second half, but unexpectedly conceded a goal following Anderson Zogbe’s deflected strike three minutes after the hour mark.

However, it turned out to be the only consolation for the Cambodian side, as with time running out, Hanoi FC netted three more times, thanks to Van Kien (70’), Hoang Vu Samson (86’) and Oseni (90’+1), to complete a commanding 5-1 victory.

The triumph helped Hanoi FC retain their second-place position in Group F, three points behind Singapore’s Tampines Rovers. If they beat the Singaporean side in the last group-stage clash on May 15, Hanoi FC will advance to the ASEAN zonal semifinals as the group winners.

Vietnam’s National Cup holders, Becamex Binh Duong, had been forced to bag their full three points against visitors Persija Jakarta to preserve their hopes of making it through to the ASEAN zonal semifinals.

The victory helps Becamex Binh Duong (in blue) preserve their chance of progressing into the ASEAN zonal semifinals as the best second-placed team. (Photo: AFC)

Given that fact, the host team put their strongest lineup onto the field, which saw the return of veterans Nguyen Anh Duc (forward) and Bui Tan Truong (keeper) alongside the presence of forward Nguyen Tien Linh, the most prolific domestic player in the 2018 V.League.

Anh Duc proved his value by opening the scoring for Becamex Binh Duong after 38 minutes, before To Van Vu made it 2-0 nine minutes later.

The second half saw the Vietnamese side strengthen pressure in seeking additional goals. Their efforts paid off in the 51st minute, with substitute Wander Luiz blasting a low drive to widen the gap for manager Nguyen Thanh Son’s troops.

Persija Jakarta managed to pull a goal back thanks to Bruno Matos’s 71st-minute strike but could not create another stir before the last whistle.

The 3-1 victory kept Becamex Binh Duong in second place in Group G, five points behind the leaders, Ceres–Negros of the Philippines. Despite undoubtedly missing out on the top spot, the Vietnamese representatives will still be able to make the ASEAN zonal semifinals if they wrap up the group-stage campaign as the best second-placed team.

Becamex Binh Duong will clash with Ceres–Negros in the last match of the group stage on May 15.